MONMOUTH — In a two-inning overtime thriller on June 20, the Post 20 18U Dirtbags baseball team scraped by with a 7-6 win over the Willamette Moundtime at the Western Oregon University baseball field.
Holding them 4-0 until the fourth inning, the Dirtbags appeared to have the game locked down until Willamette started nabbing hits and crossing the plate, notching four runs by the fifth inning.
“First half of the game, I think we were just getting settled in,” said head coach James Leach. “It’s been a long week for the boys. We had a four-day camp, and we’re also currently on what will be, at the end of June, a 17-day stretch of baseball. So they’re doing a phenomenal job of sticking with it from the first inning to the last inning, and sometimes it just takes a mental check and a mental reminder of, we’re here to play baseball and we got this.”
The top of the seventh inning saw both teams knotted 6-6, forcing the game into overtime.
Neither team could scratch any runs across the plate until the ninth inning, when the Dirtbags nabbed one to cap a 7-6 victory on the evening and bump the team record to 9-2.
The season started June 3, and since then it’s been a fast-paced couple of weeks, complete with a full roster.
“This team is very talented,” Leach said. “We’re talented defensively, pitching, hitting, and on the bases. We have a lot of speed and are being aggressive right now on the bases, which is awesome because it applies pressure to the other team, so it’s a very well-rounded group.”
Leach says he expects good baseball from the group of guys that came out.
“This is a group of mature, developed players,” he said. A few members of the roster, including Derek Maiben, Jacob Maiben and Jaret Stewart, spent last year on the Western Oregon University baseball team; and Kaleb Kantola, Ruben Cedillo, Connor Laeng and Emiliano Alarcon just finished an explosive high school baseball season, helping the Central High School Panthers win the state championship title.
“So they understand the game very well,” Leach said. “So we can do a lot of things, whether its allowing them to hit in certain situations, or if we need to break it down and do small ball, bunt, stuff like that, hit and runs. I expect a lot of them, and I think they do as well.”
The 2019 summer season for the Dirtbags is packed, playing every day until the end of this month, and then resuming in July for 12 more games before regionals and the state championship.